Sunday, March 16, 2008

Stamford '08: It's Not Sexy, But Its Got Teeth

(the date on this post says Sunday, but it was, in fact written on Monday, St. Patrick's Day)

It had been determined, due to the lack of promising eats at the continental breakfast that the Stamford Suites & Resort Spa had to offer, that we, perhaps a few, perhaps many, would venture either to Dunkin' Donuts or to Starbucks Coffee & Tea.

I rolled out of bed this morning around 730, and by 810, I met KT down in the lobby. Jason wasn't feeling good, and The Sleepy Steph Leann let me know quickly I could just bring her back something.

It was 32 degrees outside, with the wind chill factor making it feel like 18, so sayeth my weather info on my fairly new phone, so with great muster and warmth, KT and I hustled out the Stamford Suites and Resort Spa revolving door, turned right and headed the three blocks to Starbucks.

Once there, we both shared our common thought: Are we being used? I mean, we've prayed and handed out fliers, but where's the impact? It was a reminder to me that sometimes, we don't get to see the results. Sometimes we are just part of the foundation. In my previous trips to this area, both involved times when I worked in New York, first in Brooklyn in 2005, then in The Bronx in 2006. Previously, I've spent time in Queens and Manhattan, and usually, you can see the impact of what you do immediately, especially when kids are involved. But here, only in Stamford? Not so much.

Still... its planting seeds. Seeds that we may not see grow for a while, seeds that we may never see grow, but that another team, another person, another new Christian and older Believer may come across and say, "Wow... I'm glad someone else planted this seed, because look at this harvest!" Being the impatient people that I am, and that I think KT might be, its hard to remember that.

Our other thought was, when people ask about mission trips, they want to know the stories... "What did you do?"... "Where did you go?"... "Who'd you tell about Christ??"... "Tell me! Tell me!" and for the first time in about six or seven mission trips I've gone on, I have nothing to tell other than, simply, "We handed out fliers. We advertised the church. That's our jobs."

In the movie "The Firm", Mitch (played by still-married-to-Nicole-Kidman-still-sane Tom Cruise) is a young lawyer who accidentally falls in with a law firm with mob ties, and ends up turning his own law firm in--not for the mob ties, but for overbilling and tax fraud. FBI Agent Tarrance (played by the always brilliant Ed Harris) comes in, holding the documents for Mitch to see, wondering whats going on.

Mitch: "I got mine, Wayne, you get the rest of 'em".
Tarrance: "Get them with what, overbilling? Mail fraud? Oh, that's exciting"
Mitch: "Its not sexy, but its got teeth."

It's not sexy, but it's got teeth. Meaning, "It's not glamorous, it's not fireworks and celebrations, it's not angels singing... but this is serious stuff. It's got lasting implications."

And for us... for me... it's got eternal ramifications. It's got obedience all over it.

FYI... the movie is good, but the book is ten times better. Its not a family movie, especially when the Quaker Oatmeal Man drops the F-bomb. That scarred me. Seriously.

We returned with a chai in my right hand for The Groggy Steph Leann, and a skim latte in my left hand for Cindy, while KT held her own coffee and a bag of pastries. The walk back was almost unbearable... we walked fast, which led to a little sweat upon my brow, which led to being even more cold as the wind whipped around and dried the water on my face. My hands were burning at the palm, each wrapped around the hot cup, while my fingers, facing the wind, were cold as ice. KT's hands were numb.

Devotional was good, this time led by Taylor & Cindy Smith, and it touched on feeling unused, to which I shared my conversation with KT. Philip, almost reading my mind and reassuring my thoughts, saying that what we are doing now isn't going to give us the warm fuzzies about how amazing salvation is, but what we are doing is fundamental, and perhaps one of the most strategic things we could do for Encounter Church.

Landon told us a story of a woman who is just starting to attend regularly... apparently, her house burned down last year, Encounter reached out to her and her family, and NINE months later, she came to church. Nine months later. Imagine reaching out, giving food and money to a family, praying for them constantly, and seeing nothing. It's not sexy, but its got teeth. And nine months later, she came to church.

We used a map of the area to break up, and basically, we were going to prayerwalk, put Easter Celebration cards under mats and in doors, and if the Spirit led, and the chance arose, talk to some people. KT, Jason, The Lovely Steph Leann and I hopped into our Chrysler Sebring and headed to the Turner Road/High Clear Drive area, with the Smiths going north of us, and the Waters going northeast of us. Turner Road and Silver Hill Lane went East to West, with Cody Drive, Barrett Avenue and Brinkerhoft Avenue running the length between them.

We started on Cody, and wow... it was freezing. I cannot describe to you how the wind was like ice, and at one point, The Freezing Steph Leann looked at me and said something I'd never heard her say before: "The wind is cutting through my Cuddl Duds. They aren't working"

I had tears in my eyes, the wind was so cold. Jason, still not feeling good, was even more miserable, while KT shivered when she walked. House after house, we walked to the front, placed a small Encounter Church "Easter Celebration" flier under the mat, or for some homes with no mats, into the door or screen door jam. Each corner we stopped and prayed for the families on those streets, that they would just take a look at the flier and not toss it away immediately, and that even if they didn't come, they would remember the name "Encounter Church".

We went up Cody Drive, down Barrett Avenue, and by Brinkerhoft, Jason just stayed in the car, just feeling terrible. We quickly knocked out the small Swan Lane, and all climbed in the car. We had been out about 2 hours and finished our rectangular quadrant, and by 1115, we were all cold, and hungry and figured it was time to get back. Jason, the trooper that he is, finally gave in and decided it would be good to go lay down for a few hours or so.

Once back at the Stamford Suites and Resort Spa, Jason went inside, leaving Steph Leann, KT and myself to decide what to do. We tossed around the idea of just going to lunch, or relaxing, but I felt like there was more to do. We had a stack of fliers left, so I suggested, "Hey, let's go get Ogden Road and Hirsch Road, then go to lunch." The girls agreed, and off we went.

We drove down both Ogden and Hirsch, and decided they weren't for us. Lots and lots of cars were in driveways, and doggone it, we're cold and hungry, we don't want to bother people. The houses looked a little smaller and more rundown, so I suggested we skip these two. KT nodded, and The Lovely Steph Leann agreed. We then decided to drive up Turner Road a bit and knock out Fara, a little side street.

On Fara Drive, the three of us quickly dispatched and finished up, then The Lovely Steph Leann led the prayer. Already, I had been thinking of how quickly we dismissed Ogden and Hirsch, and I think it bothered KT and The Bothered Steph Leann as well. In her prayer, she said, "...forgive us when we so quickly skip some houses because we just don't want to go there..." and that did it. After the prayer, I said quickly, "We have to go back to Ogden and Hirsch. We have to. I feel like God is telling me not to skip those two roads."

KT then chimed in that, "I agree. I feel like we haven't done hardly anything this morning, so I want to get those streets." The Smiling Steph Leann then just piped up, "Sure! Let's go!"

We parked across Newfield Avenue in a small shopping center, and, thinking it would be better to stay altogether, we made our way down Ogden. I would love to tell you that God led us here because we met up with someone, and led them to Christ. Or that we found someone searching for a church, and Encounter was exactly what they were needing.

We didn't. But we passed them out anyway. Including that big hill on Ogden that I didn't notice when we were driving, but definately noticed as we walked up it. It's not sexy, but its got teeth.

We stopped for a quick prayer, then rounded Pepper Ridge Road, then turned back onto Hirsch Street. The girls took the right side, I took the left, which was quite a challenge. Even though I was now doing downhill, the houses that were built upon this hill were a little higher, meaning almost every house had at least a ten-stair staircase leading up to the porch.

This allowed KT and The Friendly Steph Leann to meet the Malomarr, a beagley type dog, and Malomarr's owner. This person added to Denise, the friendly old lady who said, "Whatcha got there, honey?" as KT and Steph Leann approached, and Rick and his little boy Nathan (with the crystal blue eyes). I think God deemed it necessary that I stay silent today, as I had ne'er a single chance to talk to anyone--it wasn't like I avoided anyone, I really didn't run into anyone that wouldn't need running down. Well, save for this Mexican landscaper who I gave a flier to, pointed to Encounter Church and gave a thumbs up. He may or may not have been my cousin.

The Spirit nudged me too. There was one home which had a long stairway, leading to the door on the side of the house. I almost skipped it, not wanting to walk that far up, and felt a tug saying "Get up there, David." So I walked to the base of the staircase, and there was the mailbox (all the mailboxes around here are by the doors, not in the street, causing the mailman to actually get out and walk up and down driveways... weird). I sort of stuck the corner into the dirt by the mailbox, as we were instructed to not put them in the mailboxes. It fell over twice, and that same small voice, this time a little louder, said, "Get up those stairs, buddy. This is part of your job today." I swear I heard The Spirit say, "Remember... its not sexy, but its got teeth", though I don't know if the Holy Spirit uses the word "sexy" in guidance. Hmm.

By the time we finished Ogden and Hirsch, my whole heart had lifted. I felt the encouragment of obedience fulfilled, and we all three felt as if our morning was meaningful, and that we had accomplished something.

Jason still stayed zonked on the couch of his luxurious suite and massage parlor, while The Hungry Steph Leann, KT and I went back to Lucky's Classic Burgers and Malts. We made it back pretty much in time for the big group gathering, and we counted up 30 fliers left from our group. The Smiths had a stack, and Jillip had a stack as well (Jill said, "Our kids lost interest in what we were doing a few minutes into it..."), so we looked at the map again, redivided up the stack, and headed out.

Jason joined us this time, feeling somewhat better, and we mapped out an area to finish up the fliers. Back down High Clear Road, turning on Turner, we parked on Sherwood Road. The four of us went after it, this time with only 93 fliers between us, as opposed to the 150 or so this morning. We went all the way down Sherwood, stopped and prayed, looped around Oaklawn Avenue, and made our way back up to Dann Drive.

Along the way, The Lovely Steph Leann and KT stopped at a home where a big ditch of concrete and rock stood. A man with a shovel came out, and they talked to him. Tony Esposito was rebuilding his retaining wall that had fallen. They discussed the wall for a minute, and the subject of Encounter Church came up. Tony Esposito had lots and lots of questions about denomination, location, what it was all about and so forth, so the girls talked with him for several minutes. Hopefully, Tony Esposito will make his way to Encounter Church.

After the loop was completed, we had about 30 left, and we drove over to Dartley Drive, where we were able to finish up (well, there, and Ecine Street, running into Camore Avenue). Jason and KT even had a good talk with a lady and her dog, Cody (aka Killer), a small terrier.

This was a day I was not looking forward too... I mean, come on, lets do some festivals, or more Eastery Eggy Hunty type things, not passing out fliers door to door... yet, today was great. It was encouraging. Most of all, today, your prayers were felt. Thanks to Andy & Kristi Murry for your encouragement note.

They reminded us that Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared us in advance to do..."

And Matthew 6:20 tells us, "But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust (and wind chill factors of 18, with gusts up to 20 mph) do not destroy..."

See... now thats sexy AND it has teeth...

1 comment:

  1. That was awesome! I loved how you used the quote from the movie to remind us about planting seeds. This is exactly what I needed to hear before going on my mission trip! I am glad you had an awesome day!


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